« הקודםהמשך »
would be to compass all philosophy—it would be to describe the Encyclopedia of human knowledge; and, out of the spoils collected from every possible quarter of contemplation, to make an offering to Him of whom it has been eloquently said, that He sits enthroned on the riches of the universe. It would be to trace the footsteps of a Being, who, while He wields with giant strength the orbs of immensity, pencils every flower upon earth and hangs a thousand dew-drops around it—at one time walking in greatness among the wonders of the firmament, and at another, or rather at the same time, scattering beauty of all sorts in countless hues and inimitable touches around our lowly dwelling-places. He hath indeed lighted up most gloriously the canopy that is over our heads
-He hath shed unbounded grace and decoration on the terrestrial platform beneath us. Yet these are only parts of his ways—for the whole of his Productiveness and Power who can comprehend? This will be the occupation of Eternityamid that diversity of operations at present so baffling, to scan the counsels of the God who worketh all in all.
' 14. Our limits do not permit so much as an entrance upon this field let us therefore recommend the study of those authors who have ventured upon the enterprise, and have followed it up with a more or a less successful execution. Mixed up with the unsatisfactory metaphysics of that period, the reader will find a good deal of solid argumentation, in the Sermon preached about the beginning of the last century at the Boyle Lectureship
though we confess that on this question, we have greater value for the works of Ray and Derham than for them all put together. Even these however have been now superseded by the masterly performance of Dr. Paley—a writer of whom it is not too much to say, that he has done more than any other individual who can be named to accommodate the defence both of the Natural and the Christian Theology to the general understanding of our times. He, in particular, has illustrated with great felicity and effect the argument for a God from those final causes which may be descried in the appearances of nature—and, although he has confined himself chiefly to one department, that is the anatomical, yet that being far the most prolific of this sort of evidence, he has altogether composed from it a most impressive pleading on the side of Theism. He attempts no eloquence; but there is all the power of eloquence in his graphic representation of natural scenes and natural objects just as a painter of the Flemish School may without any creative faculty of his own, but on the strength of his imitative faculties only, minister to the spectators of his art all those emotions both of the Sublime and Beautiful which the reality of visible things is fitted to awaken. And so without aught of theimaginative, or aught of the etherial about him but in virtue of the just impression which external things make upon his mind, and of the admirable sense and truth wherewith he reflects them back again, does our author by acting merely the part of a faithful copyist, give a fuller sense of the richness and repleteness of this argument, than is
RECAPITULATION OF EVIDENCE.
RECAPITULATION OF EVIDENCE,
or can be effected by all the elaborations of an ambitious oratory. Of him it may be said, and with as emphatic justice as of any man who ever wrote, that there is no nonsense about him—and so, with all his conceptions most appropriate to the subject that he is treating, and these bodied forth in words each of which is instinct with significancy and most strikingly appropriate—we have altogether a performance neither vitiated in expression by one clause or epithet of verbiage, nor vitiated in substance by one impertinence of prurient or misplaced imagination. His predominent faculty is judgment—and therefore it is, that he is always sure to seize on the relevancies or strong points of an argument, which never suffer from his mode of rendering them, because, to use a familiar but expressive phrase, they are at all times exceedingly well put. His perfect freedom from all aim and all affectation is a mighty disencumbrance to him—he having evidently no other object, than to give forth in as clear and correct delineation as possible, those impressions which nature and truth had spontaneously made on his own just and vigorous understanding. So that, altogether, although we should say of the mind of Paley that it was of a decidedly prosaic or secular cast although we should be at a loss to find out what is termed the poetry of his character, and doubt in fact whether any of the elements of poetry were there—although never to be found in the walk of sentiment or of metaphysics, or indeed in any high transcendental walk whatever whether of the reason or of the fancy—yet to him there most unquestionably belonged a very high order of faculties. His most original work is the Horæ Paulinæ, yet even there he discovers more of the observational than the inventive; for after all, it was but a new track of observation which he opened up, and not a new species of argument which he devised that might immortalize its author, like the discovery of a before unknown calculus in the mathematics. All the mental exercises of Paley lie within the limits of sense and of experience—nor would one ever think of awarding to him the meed of genius. Yet in the whole staple and substance of his thoughts there was something better than genius—the homebred product of a hale and well-conditioned intellect, that dealt in the ipsa corpora of truth, and studied use and not ornament in the drapery wherewith he invested it. We admit that he had neither the organ of high poetry nor of high metaphysics—and perhaps would have recoiled from both as from some unmeaning mysticism of which nothing could be made. Yet he had most efficient organs notwithstanding and the Volumes he has given to the world, plain perspicuous and powerful, as was the habitude of his own understanding—fraught throughout with meaning, and lighted up not in the gorgeous colouring of fancy but in the clearness of truth's own element—these Volumes form one of the most precious contributions which, for the last half century, have been added to the theological literature of our land.
15. It has been said that there is nothing more uncommon than common sense. It is the perfection of his common sense which makes Paley at once so
rare and so valuable a specimen of our nature. The characteristics of his mind make up a most interesting variety, and constitute him into what may be termed a literary phenomenon. One likes to behold the action and reaction of dissimilar minds
-and therefore it were curious to have ascertained how he would have stood affected by the perusal of a volume of Kant, or by a volume of lake poetry. We figure that he would have liked Franklin ; and that, coming down to our day, the strength of Cobbett would have had in it a redeeming quality to make even his coarseness palatable. He would have abhorred all German sentimentalism—and of the a priori argument of Clarke, he would have wanted the perception chiefly because he wanted patience for it. His appetite for truth and sense would make him intolerant of all which did not engage the discerning faculties of his soul and from the sheer force and promptitude of his decided judgment, he would throw off instanter all that he felt to be uncongenial to it. The general solidity of his mind posted him as if by gravitation on the terra firma of experience, and restrained his flight into any region of transcendental speculation. Yet Coleridge makes obeisance to him—and differently moulded as these men were, this testimony from the distinguished metaphysician and poet does honour to both.
16. Having thus dwelt as long as our limits will admit, on the evidences of design in external nature—it is all important to remark, that on the one hand there might be innumerable most lucid indications of design in particular instances, while